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  1. #1
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Concerns about Upcoming Link Changes
    In the GoldenCAN thread, Kelli from LinkShare revealed that there are some upcoming changes to the way links are created:

    Quote Originally Posted by LinkShare Moderator
    For example, we let GoldenCAN know that we are planning to launch a major upgrade to the links which we have been working on for over two years. This upgrade was announced to our merchants back in January of this year to ensure they will be ready to take advantage of it. Some of the benefits will be to help thwart adware, spyware and other interceptors that may try to take your commissions. This dynamic encryption along with another enhancement for affiliates that we have not yet disclosed beyond our Affiliate Advisory group, will be a big step forward to addressing some of the concerns listed here and on other boards.
    This is the first I've heard about this, and I have some serious concerns:

    1) I hope LinkShare will seek out considerably more feedback about this. While I appreciate the benefits that this will have in thwarting adware, LinkShare has a horrible reputation for implementing things that cause considerably more problems for affiliates than benefits.

    2) It's essential that old links will continue to work if you make any sort of change to your links. There are millions of pages out there with old links, and not many affiliates are not going to go back and change old links. These old links must be supported indefinitely.

    3) Please don't force us to log into the interface to get links. Performics does this, and it's one of our biggest gripes with them. In fact, back in June when I created the Top Ten Ways to Make Life Harder for Affiliates thread (poking fun at the way LinkShare "enhancements" make life harder for affiliates), this was my number one "suggestion" on what LinkShare could do to make life harder for affiliates. Ugh.

    4) Consider the impact that this could have on affiliates who use datafeeds. Rather than store the entire URL, I store a "master" URL like "http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id={affid}&offerid=54694.{prodid}&type=15&subid=0&u1={u1}" for each merchant, then I just store the Sku for each product, and dynamically insert the fields in my redirect script. This gives me a lot of flexibility and reduces the size of my database. I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this.

    5) When I receive affiliate newsletters, I always look to make sure my affiliate ID is in the links. (And based on the frequency of threads about this, it's a problem that does happen from time to time.) If you encrypt the links, we won't be able to tell if our links are correct or not.

    I'm sure there are other issues, but these are the ones that come to mind.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

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  3. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    How could any move to encripting or change LS link codes thwart the damn BHO's. I defy Linkshare to present any honesty to this claim, other then trying to use it as a weak excuse to de-rail GoldenCan's growth as a value-add customer facing targeting app. Linkshare won't even devulge how BHO popups and alerts, autoset LS tracking cookies without any physical click, once a shopper arrives at a merchants page.

    What LS is saying is they can't leverage GoldenCan to the huge majority of browser, e-mail and SERP spamming affiliate base raking in 90% of the networks commissions. It therefore is branded as a evil, non mass traffic driving application, useful only to the low life domain bound affiliates. The Gall of expecting a Super Affiliate like eβates, wwwpricebandit.com or SAHS to learn HTML and build out merchant promotion showcase pages.

    I defy Linkshare to explain a 2 year link coding project that is designed to thwart their BHO hijacking partners. The advertising mindset there won't even discuss licensing the Safe Haven Network model to give their whacked merchants a parallel sales network model, to augment their "full of holes" advertising network, as the great storm is appearing on the horizon.

    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  4. #3
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecomcity
    How could any move to encripting or change LS link codes thwart the damn BHO's. I defy Linkshare to present any honesty to this claim...
    You're absolutely right, Mike. (And I don't say that very often!)

    Encrypting links will not stop many adware programs. The only ones it would stop would be those that detect affiliate links and replace affiliate IDs with their own ID. Despite common misconceptions, very few (if any?) adware programs work that way.

    I'd love to hear from Kellie or Ben as to how much encrypted links would help deter adware.
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
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    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  5. #4
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I meant to respond to this in the GC thread, but got sidetracked with other stuff yesterday.

    Link encryption is primarily to address the ad blocking concerns, not adware concerns. There maybe a very few minor players in adware which it would thwart but for the most part no. Most of the major adware players who did id swapping stopped that several years ago now as they were really on less firm legal ground with regards to possible copyright issues. Why Gator stopped doing the banner switch thing years ago.

    Link encryption is a double edge sword. It will protect against ad blocking which is definitely an issue for Networks, Affiliates and Merchants. With regards to adware/parasiteware it presents a potential problem however. When the link is encrypted, those applications who may actually be looking for the Network link in order to not redirect on can no longer know that a Network link is involved. So while adblockers may not be able to detect it's a Network link and not block the link, adware can't detect it either in order to stay off the link.

    LS is aware of this issue with link encryption and because they have discussed it with me. The discussion centered around different ways to have the link encrypted yet adware to know it is a LS link.

    My sense of Kelli's comments is that detailed information regarding the upcoming link encryption did not filter it's way down to her. Her comments did not reflect my discussions regarding with folks at LS who are more directly involved with the link encryption project.

  6. #5
    15 years and counting
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    Well if they have concerns about Asif using LS links and their future compatibilities, we should have the same concerns about using their links for new websites. It's taking me several months of hard work and some investment to launch a new activity. I'm not going to do it with their merchants if they have in mind to change the links. Like Michael said "LinkShare has a horrible reputation for implementing things that cause considerably more problems for affiliates than benefits."

    I'm not using encrypted links at CJ for the reasons described by Kellie and Michael and I hope they will not oblige the affiliates to do it.

  7. #6
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Well my server logs show more page views for the various GoldenCan showcase pages then my more established pages. www.ecomcity.com/finejewelry.htm then www.ecomcity.com/watches.htm and www.ecomcity.com/seenontv.htm are moving up the food chain of EcomCity clicks.

    Now why would Linkshare do anything moren then try and push GoldenCan on their top merchants. Targeted focused traffic WILL convert better then normal affiliate white noise traffic tricks. That puts money in your wallet Linkshare. Wake up and push GC onto this Christmas Shopping season's creatives.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  8. #7
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    Michael,
    Thanks for laying out your concerns so clearly. I will make sure they are discussed with the team that is leading this project.

    Kellie,
    Thanks for touching on the adware/link encryption issue. I am aware of this dependency and, along with others responsible for the customer side of our business, involved in these discussions.

    We're still in the development stages of this project so I can't share everything about how the new link structure is going to work. Without going into more detail on the changes, the purpose is to continue to make our Network tracking as secure and reliable as possible. Kellie touches on an important piece of this which is the ad blocker issue.

    We did discuss these planned changes with our Affiliate Advisorty Board group, as I mentioned in my GC post. We discussed with them some of the dependencies (a couple of which Michael mentions) that need to be worked through and addressed as part of this change. We will continue to work with some affiliates, as needed, as we finalize development and testing.

    It is not in our or anyone's best interest to roll out a change to our core link coding in a way that will disrupt commerce or our customers' ability to run their businesses. With the launch of this upgrade, LinkShare will continue to support all legacy links.

    As we're able to share more about this initiative, we will.
    Kelli

  9. #8
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thanks for the Linkshare update, on the issues they wish to address. Nice the future vision solution will help thwart the link blocking of those fighting the network sponsored parasites. Our real concern, rather then potential vaporware if the SunBelt and new Spyware watch dog group gets network cookies off the delete list, is why the existing link tracking codes of GoldenCan can't be encouraged as Asif sure can adapt to the new link structure, if and when it goes into effect. That's the real issue in this thread and the other heated thread. What's UP with GC?
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  10. #9
    Newbie at tooting my own horn M_Diddy's Avatar
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    What is golden can?

  11. #10
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thanks Michael as I sure was being reeled in by M_Diddy's baited hook..
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  12. #11
    Newbie at tooting my own horn M_Diddy's Avatar
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    Honestly....what is the story with Golden Can

    I personally am excited about the change in the links for other reasons that have been costing me a tremendous amount of money, I think that everyone will be extremely happy when the migation is done.

    You have to take into consideration how fast technology is moving, and that the littlest clitch costs everyone in the affiliate food chain except of course...the merchant who gets it free....friggin breakage.

  13. #12
    ABW Ambassador
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    Talking
    heard about golden s? goldencan is related. it's a better term for canning (ie firing) people. just kidding. LOL

  14. #13
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    You can find more information about GoldenCAN in their forum:

    http://forum.abestweb.com/forumdisplay.php?f=310
    Michael Coley
    Amazing-Bargains.com
     Affiliate Tips | Merchant Best Practices | Affiliate Friendly? | Couponing | CPA Networks? | ABW Tips | Activating Affiliates
    "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

  15. #14
    Newbie at tooting my own horn M_Diddy's Avatar
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    Thanks Michael....

    After reading it.....I dont know how comfortable I will be giving some company every fourth click.

  16. #15
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M_Diddy
    Thanks Michael....

    After reading it.....I dont know how comfortable I will be giving some company every fourth click.
    some merchants support it to the extent we don't give up clicks. maybe some others will have good results and will later subsidize it for us.

  17. #16
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    I don't know about the rest of you, but I am more than a little concerned that LinkShare has been working on this for over two years (GC post by Kelli) and today Kelli tells us it is only in the developmental stages of the project. That probably explains why it took so many years to get consilidated payments. And with that said, it really concerns me that even though they have taken years to work on this it will end up coming off just as badly as the Athena fiasco. But what worries me the MOST is that they will probably implement this in Q4.

    Am I just paranoid or has anyone else had any of these concerns after reading these posts?
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

  18. #17
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    Hi All

    I have major concerns on how this change in link style will effect a boat full of custom tools developed by us and others that use the Custom Link features, any change to the structure will effectively kill thiese tools, so far I have not recieved any info from LS on what changes are being done nor what impact they will have on the way the custom links work, and I've asked several times.......

    Cheers

    Chris
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  19. #18
    http and a telephoto
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    Every time I even *thin* about putting up Linkshare links and datafeeds, threads like this start. Bottom line... I'm still not verified and most likely never will be... and if I spend a lot of time creating sites now... it sounds like right before Q4 the rug will get pulled with some new linking structure... (my speculation about the timing mind you....)

    Sooooooooooo.... at the end of the day, I work with other merchants and networks......

    I have exactly 2 linkshare merchants I will continue to work with... for now...
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  20. #19
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    I am paranoid about the old links not working after the changes are made. It is a real pain to change old links to new ones for manually created pages.

  21. #20
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    A wholesale change to the link coding at the Linkshare network only puts the link changing workload on the domain bound affiliates with actual HTML pages. Static page displays, DRMs, storefront displays, custom generated individual product links ( Only option for someone using Overstock) all would require complete gutting of existing links. WebMerge and the automated database solutions, can quickly comply to code changes forcing 5 billion pages of SERP spam to be re-generated if the sites aren't already PRO'd. GoldenCan is the ONLY feed application that isn't used for SERP spammers and the easiest creative to modify for any link code changes.

    If this gets hatched in the 4th quarter only the BHO's, with a few lines of code changes, set their forced cookies with no real work required. They'll also get (regardless of the anti-Adware/Spyware spin) to completely ignor the LS addendium rules about popping on old style LS coded links. This link code change will be rewarding eBates, SAHS, DirectRevenue, WhenU's Pricebandit and other hidden LS adware partnerships a guaranteed 300-800% increase in Holiday shopping commissions while domain bound affiliates have to re-build millions of hard coded pages to earn a nickle.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  22. #21
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    Question but . . .
    but if LS says legacy linking will not be affected, how can that be a problem? are the methods of linking using third party tools that exotic?

  23. #22
    Outsourced Program Manager Chris -  AMWSO's Avatar
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    but if LS says legacy linking will not be affected, how can that be a problem?
    One would hope not.

    are the methods of linking using third party tools that exotic?
    No they generally use either merchandiser or the advanced custom link creation system.

    Cheers

    Chris

  24. #23
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    nevermind

  25. #24
    ABW Ambassador LinkShare Moderator's Avatar
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    GoldenCAN & Link Upgrade
    Asif and I spoke this week. We are working with Asif to determine if he can work within our new link structure and address our original concerns with the model. As we have more information to share on LinkShare and GoldenCAN, we will. However, just as we would approach working with any 3rd party who wants to offer additional tools on top of our technology, it will take time to evaluate and test.

    Regarding our planned link upgrade, the sole intent of this upgrade is to improve the security of the transactions that flow through our Network. While there is no silver bullet, the changes are designed to help address issues like adware and ad blocking. Within the new link structure, we will address the fact that adware affiliates still have to abide by our terms and conditions. We have not overlooked this dependency. Also, let me reiterate that legacy links will continue to be supported. However, affiliates who migrate their links to the new structure can take advantage of the added benefits.

    As we get closer to the upgrade, we'll share as much as we can. There will always be aspects of the way our technology works that we'll be able to share and others that we won't. Since no one can assume they know everything about how our technology functions, it's important that 3rd parties who want to leverage and build on top of the core technology work with us so we can ensure it won't cause unintended problems.

    Kelli

  26. #25
    ABW Ambassador Ron Bechdolt's Avatar
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    Just please tell us you don't plan on doing any changes until after the first of the year. Folks are gearing up for the profitable Q4 and we really don't need that kind of frustration during this time.

    Thanks for the update and thanks for your efforts with Asif. I'm thrilled to see LS working so quickly on this.
    Ron Bechdolt | Affiliate Program Management Consultant
    7 Days A Week Marketing

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